According to a Canadian Press story posted yesterday on Global News, one of the four people originally charged in the disappearance of Linda (Montana) Jones’ 31 Shropshire sheep, has now pleaded guilty to one count of transport or causing to transport and an animal under quarantine. Suzanne Atkinson will be sentenced January 30th.
The sheep in question were removed in April of 2012 from Ms. Jones’ farm near Trent Hills Ontario, while the farm was under quarantine by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Suzanne Atkinson was among four persons charged by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency after the Shropshire sheep were removed in April 2012 while the farm near Trent Hills, Ont., was under federal quarantine by the CFIA.
The reason given for the quarantine is that the farm was suspected of being contaminated with scrapie, which is a brain disease affecting goats and sheep, the story said.
Atkinson was initially charged with four offenses, as were Linda Jones, Michael Schmidt and Robert Pinnell. Other charges include conspiracy to commit obstruction of a CFIA officer.
Pre-trial dates for the remaining three accused have been set for February 17th through March 2nd, 2015. The actual jury trial, which is expect to run 3 to 4 weeks, will take place at a later date. See this Sept 22 post on The Bovine for more on that.
Reaction from two of the remaining accused has been to suggest that it’s really the actions of the CFIA in this case that should be called into question.
In response to an email yesterday, Michael Schmidt wrote:
“Making a deal in this case with the CFIA to have multiple charges dropped or fines reduced is very common.
It gives satisfaction to the prosecutors because they have avoided the scrutiny at trial and can claim victory.
This trial with the three remaining co-accused is potentially about senseless and ruthless policy enforcement. It is done in order to proof to the world that Canada can ship sheep all over the world. Trade, trade, trade. Economic reasons dictate insane policies, and therefore killers,( CFIA) charge people who try to prevent senseless killings with conspiracy and obstruction under the criminal code. Bureaucrats on the loose enjoy the pleasure of dictatorial power without mercy.”
And here’s Montana Jones’ reaction to the news:
“As far as I know all the other co-accused are pleading not guilty, myself included. But the really guilty parties may never be properly charged…they work for the government who created a policy that kills healthy rare heritage breed livestock. Over 70 Ontario Shropshire sheep are now dead because of CFIA. It’s been four years and NOTHING has changed in their policy. That’s my hope for the trial, is that we focus on what is intrinsically right, and what is so obviously wrong with the system as it stands now.”
Although it appears three of the original four charges were dropped, at this point one can only speculate as to the full extent of the deal agreed between Suzanne Atkinson and the prosecutors. We’ll see in February whether she also agreed to testify against the others who were charged in the alleged conspiracy.
For more background, see this story on The Bovine from January 7th, 2014 on “Saving the Sheep from the Wolves”.
4 responses to “Accused sheep-napper pleads guilty; other three face pre-trial in February”
It really would be refreshing in this day and age for someone to stand up and admit they broke the law. But I guess it’s easier to blame someone else for your actions. We don’t have to say the law in this case is/was correct, but breaking it down, all of you broke the law and are indeed guilty. Why not just stand up to it and take ownership? How sad..
It’s clear what a hero Suzanne Atkinson is. When I think of how long this has gone on for all of us accused..Michael Schmidt and Robert Pinnell and Suzanne Atkinson and I …have been pushing through time. For what?
People are speculating why she pleaded guilty…we aren’t allowed communication so we haven’t talked in years, but I’ll bet Suzanne just decided to stand back up to the government and say hey…you’ve had enough of my life…I want it back. Well for that insight and courage, bravo. She can see what’s important.
Who cares if CFIA thinks they have a victory by pushing her to plea bargain? Those who understand what matters, don’t.
She is one classy superwomanperson. I’ve the same realization in that government overregulation must cease, and we all must focus on the important issues of preservation and enjoyment of this land and the animals on it. One day I’ll be able to tell her my hat is off to her, and that I don’t believe she’s guilty, it’s the CFIA that is.
Speaking as the third accused in this case I feel that Suzanne made a choice to end the endless delays of the legal system. Each one of us must do what is best for themselves. I look forward to the trial and the truth being finally given to everyone. Good luck Suzanne you did more then most ever would.
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